JeffCo students continue protests against changes to AP curriculum

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Jefferson County students once again came together in opposition to the school board’s conservative majority.

After a relatively quiet week in Jefferson County, a small but vocal group of students from schools across the district rallied together in Littleton.

The students, who formed a group called Jeffco Stand Up, were largely responsible for organizing a series of walk-outs in protest of a board proposal to create a curriculum review committee that would examine classes including AP US History. The effort gained national attention, and the students were called names by some conservatives, but the students have embraced the names, even selling t-shirts and other merchandise that identifies them as Jeffco Rebels.

"We're not trying to make a profit. This is about raising awareness," said Ashlyn Maher, one of the student leaders of Jeffco Stand Up.

The students did catch the attention of Colorado Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia, who spoke at the rally.

"I'm not here because this is a partisan issue,” Garcia said. “This is an education issue. This is a student's issue, and I'm here like all of you to listen to these students to find out what's important to them."

Conservative board members said they did listen to students before voting to include them in the curriculum review process last week.

"I believe we've taken that feedback and we've implemented a process that respects what we've heard from teachers, from students, from the district, from the public,” Board president Ken Witt said on Saturday. “I'm glad for where we've ended up."

The students say they’re not satisfied with being included because the board took control of the committee, meaning it has the final vote.

"They can listen and then they can just say something completely opposite of what the majority of the committee wanted them to do," Maher said.

That's why the students also began to gather signatures and gauge interest in a recall effort, which could include the conservative board members.

"We've really looked into it and it may be an option, but at this point we really don't know,” said Thomas Sizemore, another student member of Jeffco Stand Up. “We're trying to find out what the public really wants."

Board president Ken Witt did not comment on the recall discussion. He said it’s time for the Jeffco community to begin moving forward and putting its attention back on what is happening in the classroom.

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